Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Saga of the Roof

The local newspaper reporter contacted me last week because they want to run a story about me having a light schedule for the month of September as the mayor. Here is their story;

The rumor that the reporter got was that I would be on vacation for the month of September. This is not true. I will be fixing my roof! I will be attending commission meetings, school board meetings, attending my regular morning news appearances and doing a few community related events. Weather will dictate if I attend the office but I have worked from my home for so long, I really don’t need to be in the office in order to much of what my job entails. I can communicate by phone from home and I can access my office computer from anywhere in the world and so email communications can be addressed.

Now for the real story that needs to be told. The slate part of my roof and the box gutters need to be replaced. The slate was put on in 1890 and has outlived its usefulness. The dormers and aluminum windows that were installed in the 1960s were not installed properly and the shingle that was used for flashing has deteriorated. This is specialty work. Box gutters and slate roofing is an art form that requires craftsman skills. We had five companies look at the roof and gutters. Four refused to do the work because it was too specialized for them. Including one guy who employs Amish workers! The fifth company quoted me $43,000. Not being a person who is put off by hard tasks I did the research and calculated that I could do the entire job myself for about $10,000 and still have some really cool tools to show for it at the end.

Since the newspaper plays on the aspect that roofing is not as specialized as mayoring let me describe and show for you exactly what I will be doing since, after all, it has been indicated that I will not be working hard.
Firstly, this fire escape has to be removed. It is already in very poor shape and removing it is likely to be more dangerous than replacing the roof.

This porch needs to be removed. Once gone I will make the decision to either replace with a smaller porch or to not replace at all.

Here is a view of the gutter from the back of the house. It is fortunate that the trim is actually made of metal. As you can see it is failing and the wood has rotted out.

Here is an interior view. I have been jacking up this part of the roof for the last three weeks so that I can put some struts back in. The original posts were removed about 40 years ago and since then the roof has been sagging.

People don’t know what box gutters are. Here is a picture of ours. You can see they are in bad shape. I will be replacing the tar, rubber and rusted metal with copper. Making copper gutters from sheets is an art form that I am willing to learn. Of course there are some areas where the wood base has rotted out and needs to be replaced. That is an art form as well.

I am posting this article because I want people to realize that this is no vacation. In fact, given the choice between being in an air conditioned office working the phones, meeting citizens, making speeches at dinner events OR doing hard physical labor 40 feet above the ground in hot weather crafting a roof that should withstand 100 years of brutal weather, most people would chose the former. However, I am not like most people. I am not afraid to do what it takes to get a job done right for the least amount of expense. Fixing this roof myself is worth $33,000 in real money to me. If you add income taxes that I pay out, it would have cost me over $50,000 to pay the only company willing to quote me a price. That is more than I make as mayor.

I look at this way. I am saving a piece of history by fixing this house properly. I am investing in my future stake in the city and I am showing people that I am not afraid to get my hands dirty trying something new.
One day the editors at the local newspaper will realize that. What is that old saying? Extra ordinary people achieve extraordinary things ....


Steven Tyler's PJs said...

FANTASTIC post! We have box gutters and rotten roof too, only our slate was pasted over with asphalt shingles, thereby breaking the slate and voiding the asphalts' warranty. I will be excited to hear how yours comes out, and if you want to do a tutorial for some poor homeowners in a nearby city, we would love to hear about it!

Anonymous said...

Have you seen the Massie's house blog? The KY family who built a timberframe themselves out of ice-storm damaged trees on their land. Crazy inspiring (and exhausting to imagine). He did his own slate roof and has a ton of great resources and had some tricky spots to navigate. You might check it out:
Good luck!

Martha Hardcastle said...

I think you choice is practical and commendable. Your home is part of Dayton history and just because it is yours doesn't make it less noble. I think it shows your dedication to infrastructure, conservation and prioritizing. And if anybody needs to talk to you, you will be easy to find!

Kate H. said...

So former mayor McRhine spent all that time on the job (she says)-- and what did the city have to show for it?

You sound annoyed in this post and I don't blame you. Rotten to think everything is political now (including rotten box gutters). Seems that another paper could have spun the story just the opposite, i.e., "Our mayor is just like us, he has a house to maintain and he's struggling with the economy, too." Guess there's no point in trying to please them. Do a good job on mayoring and on the house and let sensible people decide.

I take it you will be replacing the slate? It'd be neat if you can find new ones in the Dayton area.

Larry said...

I feel your pain....

As for the local paper, I've had my run-ins with ours as well, especially when I was on the city council.

Bad thing is, they just interviewed us last Tuesday in regard to our house restoration. It will be interesting to see what they say.

Joshua Stults said...

I've got some snips and a little seamer for doing light sheet metal work; they might work for your copper sheet forming (depending on how thick the sheet you're working is). If you'd like to borrow them let me know; I'll send them to work with Leah.

River Wilson said...

Go, Gary, Go! Best of luck in your recent renovations. As both an old house owner and a Dayton-area resident, I really appreciate your determination. It shows that you finish what you start! You are truly an inspiration. (Next summer, we're prying 3 layers of shingles -and cedar shakes- off our own old house!)

LemonDrop said...

Good GOSH you are awesome! Damn the local nay-sayers. You are what our entire country needs more of.